Monday, 31 October 2016

20:20 – Go fill up your gas tanks now. Colonial Pipeline #1 just blew up near the break from a couple weeks ago. My Trooper has 6 miles on the trip. Barbara’s car was down to half a tank, so she just now headed out to fill her tank.

09:27 – I got my Fire HD7 updated to Fire OS 5.x yesterday. The current version of the Silk browser is still pathetic, but at least it’s better than the 4.x version. I installed Adguard, which seems to work well in blocking ads.

There’s little point to visiting news websites right now. All of them, from MSM to Alt-Right, are focused on the election, and none of them has anything useful to say. Polls, polls, polls, Comey, Comey, Comey, Weiner, Weiner, Weiner, blah, blah, blah. Who gives a shit?

I did see one interesting post by a Tennessee state senator who took a drive through his district and into SE Kentucky to look at the autumn leaves and political signs. He spotted two Clinton signs and 56 Trump signs. Granted, that area, like most of the US, hates Clinton, but even so. I also saw an article about someone dumping a load of cow shit at an Ohio Democrat headquarters. That seems only fair, returning their property to them.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), no one seems to be shooting politicians yet or committing other violent acts. I have noticed that the muslim scum seem to be very quiet lately, which leads me to think they’re Clinton supporters. One or two terrorist bombings/shootings would probably shift a lot of votes to Trump.

I’ve had a lot of emails from people concerning their plans for election day. Most of them, particularly those in small towns and rural areas, plan to treat it as they would any other day. A fair percentage of those who live in larger towns and cities plan to stick pretty close to home next Tuesday and Wednesday. I don’t expect any widespread violence, but I’ve been wrong before. And, sitting where we are and as prepared as we are, that’s easy for me to say. If we lived in an urban/suburban setting, I’d be a lot more concerned. If that’s your situation, you now have a week left to make at least minimal preparations.


Sunday, 30 October 2016

12:01 – I’m getting very tired of Amazon’s walled garden for the Fire. Some time ago, I downgraded my Fire HD7 from FOS5 to FOS4 because I couldn’t stand the control icons in landscape mode being fixed at the bottom of the screen rather than on the right side. But I’ve really had it with Silk, which is the worst excuse for a browser ever, and now that Opera is a Chinese outfit, it’s not suitable as an alternative either. I could find no way to get Firefox installed and stable on FOS4, so I just upgraded my Fire to FOS5. I had Firefox running on it before and thought it’d be easy to get it running (with uBlock Origin for adblocking), but it turns out that Amazon’s walled garden is making that very difficult. When I have time over the winter, I’m going to blow away all things Amazon on this Fire and install Android. Amazon says that voids the warranty, which has expired anyway. Never doubt that Amazon always, without exception, puts the interests of the customer in far-distant last place.

I’ve gotten really, really tired of seeing all these headlines about election polls, none of which agree on anything. So I decided to run my own poll, which I absolutely guarantee is accurate, and the last poll you’ll ever need to look at. I surveyed five people who are registered voters. One doesn’t intend to vote, so I excluded her from the results. Those results are:

Trump — 100.00%
Clinton — 0.00%
Johnson — 0.00%
Stein —- 0.00%

The margin of error is ±70%, give or take. This is very, very bad news for Clinton. Someone needs to wrap a baseball bat with barbed wire, name it Lucille, and beat her to death with it so that she can avoid this embarrassment. Or, since she really is Walking Dead, they could just ram a piece of rebar through her face and out the back of her head. They’d be doing her a favor, and the rest of us a huge favor. (Barbara was walking around the kitchen yesterday, making sounds like a Walker. I shouted in to her to stop trying to do a Clinton impression.)


Saturday, 29 October 2016

10:53 – I decided to start using the standard WP template formatting rather than formatting each paragraph separately. We’ll see how it looks in serif rather than sans-serif.

Dave Starr posted this comment on yesterday’s entry, and I thought it deserved a more complete reply than I could make in comments:

I’m really enjoying your LTS and other aspects of prepping articles. I’ve lived outside the USA for more than 10 years now, seriously considering moving back in the next year or two though. One of my main reasons would be LTS. Americans are spoiled by the cheapness of food in the USA and the broad choices. In most of the world, building up a few shelves of LTS items would be akin to storing shelves of gold bullion for the average person.

Year ago I used to follow the LDS guidance on food storage. We kept a lot of hard winter wheat in 5 gallon food safe containers, placing a small block of dry ice atop the wheat and letting the C02 sublimate, then sealing the containers. I assume the current practice of using oxygen absorbers is a superior way to go?

Checking into the availability of dry ice where we live now (it’s also become like gold), I found that the commercial dry ice manufacturing process is very simple, basically nothing more than capturing and compressing the C02 “frost” that forms when you discharge a C02 fire extinguisher.

Given that the ability to chill or even freeze things temporarily might be useful from time to time in long term survival situations, what are your thoughts on perhaps storing a commercial cylinder or two of C02?

No, most of us in the US don’t appreciate just how good we have it in terms of consumer goods. I’m 63 years old, and I’ve spent a total of about a month outside the US and Canada. I suspect very few Americans other than those in the military have been outside the US even that much. Moving back is a good idea. I think things are going to get worse and worse all over the world over the next five to ten years–we’re watching it happening now–and I think the US and Canada are the safest places to ride that out.

Yes, dry ice is as good a method as any of eliminating oxygen from storage containers. I use and recommend oxygen absorbers because they’re inexpensive, effective, safe to handle, and readily available from the LDS store, Amazon, and other vendors. Back 40 years ago, I did use dry ice when it was the only practical choice. Once oxygen absorbers became readily available, I started using them exclusively.

I had the problem with dry ice brought home to me in spades one day when I was visting a prepper friend, back when we were still called survivalists. He and his wife had just repackaged a dozen or so large Mason jars of dry staples, using dry ice from the ice cream shop to eliminate oxygen. Unfortunately, they didn’t wait long enough before they screwed the lids and bands on all the Mason jars. I’d showed up just after they finished. We were standing at the kitchen door when there was a loud bang from the pantry. His wife ran toward the pantry door. Fortunately, he grabbed her, because just then there was a second loud bang. I actually drew my .45, because I had no idea what was going on. He started shouting, “The Mason jars!” and told me what they’d just finished doing. I suggested he wait at least several hours before he entered the pantry. He told me later that a few more of the jars had exploded, and then when he finally entered the pantry the next morning there were shards of glass all over the place, including some embedded in the wood, as well as scattered food all over the floor and shelves. The lids just blew off some of them, leaving the glass undamaged, but at least a couple of the jars had fragmented. A carbon dioxide bomb is no joke, even in a plastic soda bottle. The takeaway here is to be extremely careful if you use dry ice, and NEVER EVER use it in a glass container.

Adiabatic cooling is certainly one option, but storing compressed carbon dioxide is very expensive, unsustainable, and dangerous. (I once saw the results of a poorly-secured compressed gas cylinder falling and breaking its valve. It blew through a concrete block wall into the neighboring lab, banged around and destroyed a lot of expensive equipment, and finally came to rest after cracking a poured reinforced concrete foundation wall. Fortunately, other than the guy who loosened the retaining strap to start the whole event, no one was around when it happened. He was uninjured, but I suspect he needed to change underwear.) Better to depend on evaporative cooling with clay containers, making provision for at least some electric power to drive standard or Peltier coolers, etc.


Friday, 28 October 2016

09:54 – We got more flour repackaged yesterday. Today we’ll finish up repackaging rice and oats. The oats will use the last of our 3-liter bottles. The rice will go into 2-liter bottles because rice flows very freely through the narrower mouths of the 2-liter bottles. Any additional fluffy stuff (flour, oats, etc.) we repackage will go into LDS 1-gallon foil/Mylar bags. We’ll continue to use 2-liter bottles for free-flowing stuff like sugar and rice.

When Lori, our USPS carrier, stopped by yesterday to pick up a shipment, I asked how she was doing on repackaging the bulk staples she’d picked up at Sam’s Club last weekend. She’d finished repackaging the sugar and rice, but was waiting for her brother to deliver more 2-liter bottles for the bagged flour. I told her we had plenty of empty 2-liter bottles and that she was welcome to a trash bag or two full of them, but she said she didn’t need them right now. I offered to lend her a flexible silicone funnel with a stem that’s a slip fit for the inside of a 2-liter bottle and makes it much easier to transfer flour. She accepted with thanks. I asked if she was using oxygen absorbers and she said she intended to order some on Amazon. I told her we had plenty and offered her some to use with her repackaged flour and rice. She insisted on paying me for them, although I told her that I bought them in packs of 100 from the LDS on-line store, and they only cost twelve cents each. I then gave her a small Mason jar of the oxygen absorbers and a one-minute tutorial on how to use them.

Barbara and I have been trying different main courses that can be made exclusively with LTS food. Last night, we made a skillet dinner with one pound of ground beef (we actually used frozen, but it would work just as well with the Keystone canned ground beef we keep in stock), one pound of macaroni, one can of green beans, two cups of Augason Farms cheesy broccoli soup in four cups of water, and three tablespoons of onion flakes. It was quick and easy to make, and turned out very well. In fact, we’re having the leftovers for dinner tonight and decided to add it to our main meal rotation. Barbara did suggest dropping the onion from three to two tablespoons, but she’s not a big fan of onion or garlic. These ingredients make sufficient to serve as a main meal for four to six people.

We’re spending some time today and tomorrow on inventorying kits and components. We’re at a comfortable level of finished goods inventory for this time of year, when we’re shipping an average of only one kit per day, but I want to get ready to build a lot more as kit sales ramp up in late November and through December and January.

Clinton and Obama’s wife made a campaign stop in Winston-Salem yesterday, at the Lawrence Joel Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum. The front-page article in the paper this morning said the crowd was estimated at 11,000, with a vast majority being women, but I have my doubts. The photograph they ran with the article showed Clinton and Obama on-stage with maybe a hundred people in the stands. There was a large section of empty seats visible, and a few populated rows of seats with a large curtain blocking off the seating behind them. My guess is that actual attendance was probably a few hundred people. Clinton rallies are notorious for being lightly attended, while Trump rallies are invariably standing room only.


Thursday, 27 October 2016

09:04 – Thirteen days left until the election. Even if you don’t really expect anything catastrophically bad to happen–I don’t–it’s only prudent to be prepared for violent civil unrest, even if it’s only localized. It may be your local area that’s affected. Particularly if you’re in an urban environment, stay away from crowds. If I worked in a large city, I’d go as far as taking a vacation day and staying home from work that day. Just ask some of the people from Charlotte, who didn’t realize that they were driving into a life-threatening situation. And be aware that the worst danger of civil unrest won’t necessarily be on Election Day itself. It may be on the following day or the following several days.

If you’re not at all prepared, there’s still time. Make a Costco/Sam’s/Walmart/supermarket run. Pick up several cases of bottled water, at least one or two cases for each family member. Pick up enough shelf-stable canned and dry foods to last you at least a week. Two weeks would be better. Buy foods that require little or no preparation. If you don’t already have them, pick up some LED flashlights/headlamps/lanterns, batteries for them, and a battery-powered radio. Buy a Coleman dual-fuel camp stove and a couple of gallons of Coleman fuel for it. Make sure your cell phone is charged, and charge the extra battery for it, if you have one. Refill any prescription medications that you’re down to less than a month’s supply of. If you don’t own a firearm, buy one now, along with at least 100 rounds of ammunition for it. A short-barrel pump-action shotgun is a good choice for most people, but even a .22 rimfire rifle is a whole lot better than nothing. Fill the gas tank(s) of your vehicle(s). If you have a propane grill, make sure the tank is full or nearly so. Buy an extra tank. Keep as much cash on hand as you can afford, mostly in small bills with at least several dollars in change. If you live in a densely-populated area, be prepared to get out of town if necessary. Keep your food and other emergency supplies in or near your vehicle, and make arrangements with family or friends in a more lightly-populated area to visit them if things go downhill in your area. Tune your radio to a local station, and keep an ear on it. And if violence breaks out in your area, be prepared to evacuate on a moment’s notice. Don’t wait around to see if things get better. They may, but they may also get a whole lot worse, stranding you and your family in a dangerous situation.

More work today on science kit stuff and repackaging the remaining bulk staples we have sitting in bags.



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

09:46 – Barbara is off to the gym this morning. She’s volunteering all afternoon at the Friends of the Library bookstore.

Yesterday, wanting to make sure she was aware of the FDA rules change on livestock antibiotics that takes effect January 1st, I asked Lori, our USPS carrier, if she routinely treated her beef cattle with antibiotics. She said she didn’t, and used antibiotics only if one of her cows actually became ill.

In passing, I asked her if, with less than two weeks until the election, she’d made a run yet to stock up on food. She said she’d made a big Sam’s Club run over the weekend, and now had a bunch of canned goods as well as bulk dry staples sitting around in sacks waiting to be repackaged. She washed/sanitized a bunch of two-liter bottles, and is now just waiting for them to dry.

Nick posted a comment this morning that’s worth reading. It links to a Daily Mail article that describes just how ill-prepared the authorities in Washington and Oregon are for the catastrophic earthquake that may occur at any time. Depending on how powerful that quake is, its epicenter, and when it occurs, it might easily kill millions of people, particularly in heavily-populated coastal areas. The authorities are now suggesting that people store two weeks’ worth of food, up from three days. That may help a bit, but of course less than 10% of the population are likely to follow that advice. As always, the authorities want to avoid scaring people, when scaring people is exactly what they should be doing. What they should have announced is something like: “There is going to be a catastrophic earthquake. It may not happen for years, or it may happen later today, but it IS going to happen. When it does, it will be too late to evacuate, and this earthquake and its aftereffects will kill many people, at least tens of thousands and possibly millions. The government will do all it can to render aid, but our ability to do so will be very limited. We strongly recommend that you prepare now by making provisions to provide water, food, heat, sanitation, and other essentials for yourself and your family. You may be on your own for weeks to months.”


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

09:45 – With regard to non-prescription antibiotics, as of January 1, 2017 the FDA is transitioning many standard livestock antibiotics from OTC status to what amounts to prescription status. If you want to get some antibiotics, you might want to do it right now. See The End of OTC Veterinary Antibiotics and this PDF link.

We include small amounts of several livestock antibiotics in our biology kits, including penicillin G potassium, oxytetracycline, and sulfadimethoxine, all of which will be restricted as of the first of January. I plan to stock up on those before the deadline. I’m not sure what effect these new regulations will have, if any, on “fish antibiotics” like those sold by aquabiotics.net, but it’s probably safer to assume the worst.

If you need guns, ammunition, or high-capacity magazines, now would also be a good time to get them. As in past panics, if Clinton is elected you can expect extreme shortages and prices that may double or triple overnight.

Barbara is volunteering at the library this evening for the Quiz Bowl. We’ll have an early dinner, and then it’ll be wild women and parties for Colin and me until Barbara returns later this evening.


Monday, 24 October 2016

09:54 – Barbara is off to the gym. This afternoon, she’s volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore, and tomorrow evening she’s volunteering at the annual library Quiz Bowl. Yesterday, her new friend JoAnne from the historical society stopped by with her husband, Jeff, and their son, Colin, who’s 15. They have roots in Sparta and have owned a vacation home here for 15 years, but they’re just now in the process of moving here from New Jersey to live full-time. Jeff is 55 and just retired as manager of a waste water treatment plant after a 33-year career in water treatment.

After numerous email questions to me and Jen’s husband, David (a veterinarian), Brittany has decided what antibiotics to order for her, her husband, and their two young children. I suggested and David concurred (in his role as a layman) that Brittany and her husband should read the detailed data sheets for each antibiotic on drugs.com before deciding. Brittany also asked my advice on where to order, expecting that I’d know who offered the best prices and quality. I suggested aquabiotics.net as an inexpensive source of good-quality antibiotics.

After careful consideration, mainly because of the side effects in children, Brittany decided to order two 50-packs of these ($30 total), which is five courses of doxycycline. She also decided to order two 50-packs of these ($30 total), which is five to seven courses of SMZ/TMP, five 50-packs of these ($67.50 total) or a total of 100 grams, which is 2.5 courses at 4,000 mg/day for ten days, or ten courses at 2,000 mg/day for five days of metronidazole, and one 24-pack of these ($32 total), which they’ll use in combination with ordinary 500-mg amoxicillin capsules they already had to provide three courses of amoxicillin/clavulanate. They decided to pass on the ciprofloxacin entirely, and instead buy two 30-packs of these ($42 total), which is four to six courses of levofloxacin. Levofloxacin is a more expensive later-generation fluoroquinolone, similar to ciprofloxacin but with fewer resistance issues.

The idea of self-prescribing antibiotics scares the hell out of Brittany, which is good. It scares the hell out of me, too, even more so because I know a fair amount about them and their side effects. But Brittany intends to store these medications in the freezer against a truly catastrophic emergency, using them only as an absolute last resort. She looks at this purchase as a one-time outlay of $200+ on insurance.

Brittany’s first job in high school was working at a local pharmacy. As she said, most people who walk into a pharmacy and see hundreds or thousands of large bottles of drugs on the shelves behind the counter probably just assume that means the pharmacy keeps enough drugs on hand to fill prescriptions for weeks or months on end. She knows the truth is different. Most pharmacies get daily or more frequent deliveries of drugs, and what they have on hand of any particular drug at any given time may be a one-week supply, or less. If the transportation chain breaks down for any reason, a community may have at best a week’s or ten days’ supply of most critical drugs. That’s counting everything: pharmacies, hospitals, emergency-care clinics, doctors’ offices, veterinarians’ offices, everything. As Brittany said, a doctor without access to drugs is severely hampered in what he can do. But if the patient can provide his own drugs based on the doctor’s recommendation, there’s a much better chance of a good outcome.


Sunday, 23 October 2016

10:00 – Email from Brittany yesterday, CC’d to Jen. Like many preppers, with only a couple of weeks until the election, Brittany is trying to make sure she has all her ducks lined up.

She’s been reading about fish antibiotics, and wanted to know which specifically I’d recommend she buy RFN. With the usual disclaimer that I am neither a physician nor a pharmacist and so as an unqualified person all I can do is tell her what I would store in her place, I mentioned the following, assuming that neither she nor her family has any allergies to any of these antibiotics:

1. Doxycycline — probably the most flexible of readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotics. The usual adult course of treatment is one 100-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 tablets is 30 days’ worth, or three to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

2. SMZ/TMP — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 400/80-mg tablet every 12 hours for a week to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 800/160-mg tablets is 60 days’ worth, or six to eight full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

3. Metronidazole — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is also active against anaerobic bacteria and many protozoal pathogens. Although it varies with the disease being treated, the usual adult course of treatment is 2,000 to 4,000 mg total per day (at 7.5 mg/kg) divided into three or four doses for five to ten days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets (30 grams total) is one to two full courses of treatment for a 150-pound adult. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 12 to 25 courses on hand.)

4. Ciprofloxacin — another readily-available broad-spectrum antibiotic. The usual adult course of treatment is one 500-mg tablet/capsule every 12 hours for seven to fourteen days, which means that a bottle of 60 500-mg tablets is two to four full courses. (For a dozen people, I’d keep 6 to 12 courses on hand.)

Although it’s harder to come by than the antibiotics listed above, I’d also want to keep a few courses of 875/125-mg amoxicillin/clavulanate on hand. Resistance to plain amoxicillin is now so widespread that many physicians treat it almost as a placebo, so don’t bother stocking it or other beta-lactam antibiotics.


Saturday, 22 October 2016

09:16 – I see that gun sales are, so to speak, booming as the election approaches. I’m not sure why anyone is concerned. I have it on good authority that Clinton has made an absolute promise: “If you like your guns, you can keep your guns.” And we all know how honorable and trustworthy Clinton is.

Then there’s Trump, who apparently will accept the results of the election if he wins. Otherwise, not so much. I am reminded of Andrew Jackson. This could end up being a real mess. I’m relieved that we’re prepared, come what may.

It’s not that I’m expecting widespread violent civil unrest. I’m not, but nor is the probability zero that it will occur. If serious unrest begins in one or a few cities, there’s a reasonably high likelihood that it would spread like wildfire, and that interruptions to food and fuel deliveries would occur. The inner cities are already tinderboxes, and it wouldn’t take much to ignite them. Our political class is literally playing with fire.

We’ve added John Adams on Amazon Prime streaming to our mix. Barbara can take only so many Walking Dead episodes at a time, so we’re now alternating them with Sam Adams and re-watching the 1971 version of Upstairs, Downstairs.

One of Barbara’s friends from Winston is coming up today to spend the afternoon. Colin will be delighted. He thinks everyone that visits us has come to play with him.